By James Heffernan - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- A historic church building that in recent years has hosted fundraisers and special events for local nonprofits will soon become a house of worship once again.
The Old Town Event Center, at 403 S. Loudoun St., was recently sold to Eagle Heights Presbyterian Church for $780,000.
Richard Bell, CEO of the Adams Cos. and principal of Adams-Nelson & Associates Inc., helped facilitate the sale.
The building will become the first permanent home for Eagle Heights, which formed in 1992. The 120-member congregation has met at various locations over the years, most recently at Daniel Morgan Middle School on Sunday mornings.
Administrative assistant Patricia Reitz said the church's prayers were answered in the purchase of the 8,400-square-foot building, which dates to the 1870s.
"Most definitely," she said. "This is long-awaited."
The church will continue to meet at the middle school through the end of the month. Services in the new building will begin in August.
The property was the home of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church until the early 1990s. The Adams Cos. purchased it from the Diocese of Arlington in 1999.
"From its opening in 2001, the Old Town Event Center has always been a way for The Adams Companies to give back to the community through sponsorship of a wide range of events and organizations," Adams says in a news release.
The event center was the venue of choice for groups like Literacy Volunteers, the SPCA, First Night Winchester and the Shenandoah Arts Council. On June 26, the arts council hosted the final OTEC event, a fundraiser for its ARTSCAPE program, which pairs local artists with sponsors in the business community to produce banners for use on the downtown walking mall.
The Top of Virginia Regional Chamber has also used the facility since moving to South Loudoun Street in February 2008.
"We're thrilled that a local church has found a home," chamber President and CEO Randy Collins said of the sale. "That property has a long history in the community, and it's best suited to house a church."
The chamber used the sanctuary for seminars, press conferences, board of directors meetings and even its inaugural "Casino Night" fundraiser. Although parking was at times an issue, the site was flexible and unique, Collins said.
Reitz said the building will require few renovations for Eagle Heights' needs, though there are plans to build a staircase to connect the first floor with the basement level. Currently the basement is only accessible via an outside entrance.
"That should be completed by the time we move in," she said.